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“For many are invited, but few are chosen…” Talent Acquisition departments live through something similar to the Parable of the Wedding Feast. They are asked to attract as many guests as possible yet forced to witness that those who show up without the expected clothes are thrown into a dark jail — just because corporate systems and processes have not evolved to accommodate the news expectations of the social media era. In 2013, the problem can easily be solved! Ensuring a quality candidate experience is essentially a matter of technology.
A good candidate experience: a business mandate for any organization today
Thirty years, a “bad” or rather a non-existent candidate experience was tolerable because in the mind of most people this was how “the system worked.” Massive computerization had nurtured a sense of helplessness even though for generations, people had been hired because of the introduction of friends or family members. The development of e-commerce at the end of the nineties and of social networks in the early 2000 have eroded such resignation and generated new behaviors. Despite multiple calls for action, summarized by Gerry Crispin or appeals for a “candidate voice” to use an expression by John Sumser, it’s only recently (and mostly with the success of the Candidate Experience Awards) that organizations have started to factor in the huge demographic and attitudinal changes of this century.
Offering a good candidate experience is not luxury or an act of kindness. It’s a business mandate for any organization that wants to:
- Attract millennials: Generation Y will make up 75 percent of the workforce by the year 2025. Employers are struggling to retain them and according to a survey, 30 percent of companies lost 15 percent or more of their Gen Y employees in the last year. These losses cost companies anywhere from $15,000 to $25,000.
- Address passive candidates and not simply applicants (or active candidates): Passive candidates are 80% of the workforce. The purpose is to create talent pipelines regardless of the immediate hiring needs — even though these two purposes are closely intertwined.
- Amplify their employer brand: Your brand is not just a motto or cool advertising messages. It’s the content strategy that you develop to make sure that passive candidates are interested in your company. In the war for talent, this is the only way to build up your competitive advantage.
Candidate Experience Management (CEM)
Today, Candidate Experience Management (CEM) is the art and science of knowing candidates, enabling them to give you the best of what they can offer and creating a positive feeling about who you are whether or not you plan to hire them. In 2013, a good candidate experience is not different from what we expect as customers. We all want the following:
Treating candidates as people
Offer candidates the ability to opt into your talent network using their social login, welcome them with a video, thank them for joining, allow them to offer a live profile that they can enrich with documents and a video presentation of themselves. In the social world, people have an account that they can access, where they can define their privacy preferences and tell you how often and when they want to receive emails and notifications from you. They are not just names in a static database. The social media era has empowered individuals. Your social recruiting efforts will be disappointing if you break the first rule of social networking, the ability to show respect to people.
Providing value to the relationship:
Today anybody can access information in one or two clicks. For example, make sure that candidates can assess their skills: if a candidate sees that her profile shows only a 55% match with a job, she will easily understand why she cannot be considered and yet continue to see value in what you have to offer. Storytelling videos showcasing real people, live video conversations, webinars as well as informational blog posts are essential in providing value. This is also what will entice the candidates in your network to share your jobs, speak about your events, or re-post your blog entries on their personal social networks. Candidates are not singletons in a no man’s land. They are connectors within their communities, powerful referrers and ambassadors. If you bring value to them, they will bring value to you too!
A sense of belonging:
The brand that you have developed on the Web and social networks to attract candidates must continue inside your private network. Your brand is not just a show to be seen from afar. Instead it must be inspiring and immersive at all times! Today, when candidates respond to your call of action, your employer branding magic ends: you transport candidates into the bland environment of an ATS. As a result, a large number of candidates drop off during an often-antiquated application process, you lose the ability to augment your pipelines and you do not address passive candidates. Reconsider the role of the “Apply” button: if you push candidates directly from your social source into your ATS, you’re skipping the crucial part of the social candidate experience. Drive candidates from your social pages or job boards directly into your talent network. Candidates are candidates before they are applicants. They are the ones feeding your pipelines!
Ensuring a good candidate experience is not a nice-to-do. Treating candidates poorly is risky business. A 2010 study, by Alexander Mann Solutions, found that “more than half (52%) of [candidates] across the world said a negative interview experience would likely impact their buying products or services from that organization in the future.”
The quality of the candidate experience is at the heart of effective HR best practices in sync with our times and your efforts can be measured. How many candidates signed up into your network? Who shared your jobs, your stories or your events? What’s their global level of activity? Establish guidelines to analyze all the aspects of your Candidate Engagement Index™ and continuously align your talent acquisition strategy with your business goals. By ensuring an optimal candidate experience, you will not only know candidates better and thus improve your quality of hire, but you will also reduce time-to fill and cost-to fill down the road.